Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Critical Race Realism: A Glass Ceiling for the Legal Academy?

Ediberto Roman has been arguing in this blog and elsewhere that it is very difficult for Latinas/os to land jobs in the higher reaches of the legal academy. A new article by Ming Zhu entitled "An Empirical Study of Race and Law School Hiring" ( provides additional empirical evidence to support Roman's position. After reviewing the relevant data from one academic year (2004-2005), she concludes: "While being a minority resulted in a positive bump in getting a tenure-track law teaching job ... race only seems to help if the minority candidate is willing to teach in a lower-ranked school." In contrast, she finds that "White candidates seem to hold a monopoly on hiring at the nation's top law schools. In fact, every hire made by the top 16 law schools in the study was of a white candidate; put another way: not a single minority hire was made by any of the top 16 schools. These findings thus support Merritt and Reskin's assertion that top law schools seem to preferentially hire whites." Ms. Zhu's article is certain to generate debate on the always controversial topic of faculty hiring. Her article may also show the power of an emerging approach to the study of race -- critical race realism -- which uses the empirical tools of social science to analyze issues of race.

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